when triggers are trending: how to cope with the “me too” movement

The “Me Too” movement, which as grown out of the onslaught of sexual abuse accusations against primarily men in power, has made the insidiousness and prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in our culture clear. The number of women who have voiced “Me Too” in response to their allegations shows a sense of the magnitude of the reality of rape culture in our society. For many victims who have suffered from sexual violence, the movement has offered an empowering platform for them to be heard. With the camaraderie in the power of numbers, there exists the potential for normalization, validation and decreased shame.

For other victims though, including myself, the movement has been a silent detriment, triggering flashbacks and difficult memories. What isn’t being talked about, is the idea that a flood of stories can actually cause a lot of pain.

With the personal and private becoming public, painful experiences have become a nonchalant subject of national conversation, diminishing the power of the unspeakable experiences many people face. What we once faced privately we are now forced to confront and relive in public, and honestly, it hurts to remember.  

The pervasiveness of difficult language across computer and phone screens right now seems unavoidable and serves as a constant reminder for me. On a daily basis I can’t escape my trauma, and now it’s almost impossible to scroll through social media feeds without reading about more allegations. Note: Powerful experiences are seemingly invalidated when reduced to a hashtag trending on Twitter.

If you’re feeling triggered, let me share some of the ways I’m learning to cope:

    1. I’m consciously cultivating an attitude of awareness. For a couple months now, stories of the “Me Too” movement have made me feel…unsettled…for lack of a better word. I knew I was having difficulty just seeing words like “Sexual assault” on my computer screen over and over again. I was feeling trapped with the inescapable nature of the movement. Over time, I’ve felt more and more depleted and so, I’m noticing my reaction and accepting it as it is (this isn’t easy). Having awareness of your experience doesn’t mean changing it. In fact, trying to actively change your experience can be reductive.
    2. I’m choosing whether or not I want to participate and in what capacity. This is the first post I’ve made publicly about the “Me Too” movement and it’s taken me some time to even want to address it. I think it’s absolutely vital to know that participation is YOUR choice. That’s where the empowerment lies. Listen to your instincts and know that there is no wrong way to feel and no moral obligation to participate. I understand how it can be empowering to share your story, and know that this experience can also be equally overwhelming.
    3. Practice self-validation and self-compassion. It makes so much sense that this time is hard. I’ve been repeating that to myself. This simple bit of self-compassion may remove some judgments you have around the difficulty you are experiencing. As with cultivating awareness, cultivating a sense of acceptance, while challenging, could be helpful. Knowing that you are understood and that your emotions and thoughts are accepted by yourself and others is powerful in and of itself.

 

 

This is a challenging time for many reasons. Remember that if you are not ready to share your story, if you don’t want to engage in the dialogue because it’s triggering, you have every right to say, “No.”

in strength and healing,

OJ

when triggers are trending: how to cope with the “me too” movement

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